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Daniel Hataway v. the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois

January 14, 2013

DANIEL HATAWAY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael P. McCUSKEY U. S. District Judge

E-FILED

Tuesday, 15 January, 2013 02:58:05 PM Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD

OPINION

This case is before the court on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (#11). On July 26, 2012, Plaintiff filed his first complaint against Defendant (#1). On September 12, 2012, Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss (#6). On October 1, 2012, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint (#10). On October 5, 2012, Defendant filed its updated Motion to Dismiss (Amended Complaint) (#11). On October 22, 2012, Plaintiff filed his Response (#13), and on October 26, 2012, Defendant filed its Reply (#16), following permission from this court (Text Order of October 25, 2012).

The court has reviewed the briefings and exhibits provided by the parties. This court has federal question jurisdiction pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. Following this careful review, the Motion to Dismiss (#11) is DENIED.

Background*fn1

Plaintiff Daniel Hataway started working for Defendant University of Illinois in approximately January 2000 as extra help, and secured a permanent position as a shipping and receiving clerk in November 2001. In October 2004, Plaintiff allegedly suffered an on-the-job injury that eventually resulted in his inability to perform the essential functions of his job as a shipping and receiving clerk. Specifically, the position required him to frequently lift heavy objects weighing up to 70 pounds.

Plaintiff was diagnosed with idiopathic degenerative arthritis in both his wrists. At Defendant's request, Plaintiff applied for disability benefits on October 5, 2004. Defendant allegedly told Plaintiff that it would assist him in finding a position for which he could fulfill all the duties. In December 2004, Plaintiff's physician released him to work as long as the work did not require strenuous activity or lifting or grasping objects weighing more than 20 pounds.

In February 2005, Plaintiff began receiving disability benefits. In June 2005, Plaintiff was placed on State Universities Retirement System ("SURS") disability leave. In September 2005, Defendant posted a vacancy for the position of a purchasing agent.

On March 7, 2006, Plaintiff filed a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR). An investigation was conducted. The investigative report found that Plaintiff alleged that when he attempted to apply for positions that he could perform, including the purchasing agent position, Defendant told him that he could not apply because he was currently on disability.

The investigative report also noted that Plaintiff responded that while he was on disability, he had provided a letter from his doctor that he only had a 20-pound lifting restriction, and that the purchasing agent position did not require any lifting duties not within his restrictions. In fact, Plaintiff had averred that the position has no physical requirements at all.

Further, Plaintiff alleged that he was more qualified to perform the duties required for the purchasing agent position than the non-disabled individual that Defendant actually hired. The investigative report concluded that 1) Defendant did not arrange any placement for Plaintiff after Plaintiff submitted his December 1, 2004 medical release showing that he could return to work with a 20-pound lifting restriction, in contravention of policy; 2) Defendant did not interview Plaintiff for the purchasing agent position; and 3) there was substantial evidence to suggest that the University failed to hire Defendant on the basis of his disability. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint includes three related counts. In the first, he alleges that Defendant discriminated against him by not employing him for the purchasing agent position, on the basis of his disability, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 12112. The second and third counts allege the same acts, but premise liability on the basis of a record of disability, § 12102(1)(B); and on the basis of being regarded as having such an impairment, § 12102(1)(C).

Analysis

Defendant moves to dismiss Plaintiff's claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim serves to test the sufficiency of the complaint, not to decide the merits of the case. See AnchorBank, FSB v. Hofer, 649 F.3d 610, 614 (7th Cir. 2011); Gibson v. City of Chicago, 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990). To survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint need only contain sufficient factual allegations to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). To meet this standard, the allegations in the complaint must be detailed enough to "give the defendant 'fair notice of what the ...


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